Can you believe the Arab Spring in Syria has been going on since January 2011 (or Dec 2010 depending on which source). For two and a half years, the Arab world has experienced unrest like it never has before. Dictators, Parliaments or Presidents fell in rapid succession. The civil war in Syria is taking a tens of thousands of lives and going on its third year. And now Turkey seems to be the latest victim of the unrest that now characterizes the region. The BBC reports on the latest nation’s uprising,
“[T]housands of anti-government protesters have rallied again in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Earlier, Mr Erdogan vowed to press ahead with a controversial proposal to redevelop a park in Istanbul. A local protest against the plan turned into political unrest in Istanbul, Ankara and across Turkey. The original sit-in at Gezi Park last Friday mushroomed after police cracked down on activists defending the green space near Taksim Square from developers. For days, demonstrators in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities have called for the three-term prime minister to quit.”
Turkey? The one nation that had seemed calm in the face of constant teargas, bullets, and fists in the air? Yes. And it was inevitable.
Recep Erdogan has been Prime Minister of Turkey since 2003. Initially he brought stability and a westernization to this country. He was part of the negotiations to enter the European Union. He was allied with Israel. He brought inflation under control. He ended internal conflict amongst factions. He stabilized the party and thus, Parliament. The west loved him.
However as time went on, “On his second and third terms in office, despite the improvements brought about as a result of the first term, the government mostly gave up on the European Union backed democratization process and became increasingly authoritarian on press freedom, [more journalists are in jail in Turkey than in China!] restrictive on Kurdish minority rights and dismissive and authoritative on formerly dominant political powers in Ankara. Democratic initiative on Kurdish minority rights, led by Erdoğan, stalled.” (source).
After all, Erdogan “once called democracy a train from which you get off once you reach the station.”
Like Hitler did?
Of late, the nation’s ranking for press freedom slipped. Erdogan began censoring internet access, he broke ties with Israel, and most recently, severely tightened restrictions on use and sale of alcohol due to religious reasons.
Erdogan is Sunni Muslim, remember.
In February 2013, Erdoğan called Zionism a “crime against humanity“, comparing it to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and fascism.
And in June of 2013 for the first time in ten years in Turkey, an uprising occurred. “June 2013 saw protests against the perceived authoritarianism of Erdogan and his policies, starting from a small sit-in in Istanbul in defense of a city park. After the police’s intense reaction with tear gas, the protests grew each day for the next seven days. Faced by the largest mass protest in a decade, Erdogan made this controversial remark in a televised speech: “The police were there yesterday, they are there today, and they will be there tomorrow. Taksim Square cannot be allowed to be a place where marginal groups can freely roam”. (source)
Of these uprisings, The Economist explains in an article interestingly titled, Democrat or sultan? and he is illustrated as a sultan on a rug holding a modern teargas mask, “The protests are a sign of rising dissatisfaction with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s most important leader since Ataturk. The rioting spread like wildfire across the country. Over 4,000 people have been hurt and over 900 were arrested; three have died.”
Unlike the previously mentioned Arab Spring and the protests in Egypt, for example, the protests in Taksim Square in Istanbul have not been FOR Islamism in Turkey, they have been protests against Erdogan’s (perceived) increasing Islamization of the nation. (source, source). Or, at least against his continued authoritarian constriction of previously enjoyed freedoms.
In a truly democratic nation, there is tolerance for dissent. What the world witnessed this past week was extreme intolerance and further, that the go-to position from its nation’s duly elected leader is violence and heavy-handedness.
There is much debate among the world political watchdogs as to whether this is an Arab Spring for Turkey or not. Some say it the exact opposite- a Turkish Autumn, if you will. (source, source). Others
say it is the first crack that will lead to a return of the Caliphate. But let’s look at what prophecy says.
“The Arab Spring is the media term for the revolutionary wave of nonviolent and violent demonstrations, violent and nonviolent protests, riots, and civil wars in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010. To date, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests have occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Western Sahara.”
This Arab Spring occurred within a region known as the 10/40 window. The Joshua Project describes the importance of the 10/40 Window this way-
“The 10/40 Window has several important considerations: first, the historical and Biblical significance; second, the least evangelized countries; third, the unreached people groups and cities; fourth, the dominance of three religious blocs; fifth, the preponderance of the poor; sixth, the strongholds of Satan within the 10/40 Window.”
Here is the 10/40 window on a map:
“The 10/40 Window is a term coined by Christian missionary strategist Luis Bush in 1990 to refer those regions of the eastern hemisphere, plus the European and African part of the western hemisphere, located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, a general area that in 1990 was purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges and least access to the Christian message and Christian resources on the planet.” Wikipedia list of 10/40 nations is below.
What is interesting is that many of these nations participated in the Arab Spring, and are further predicted in prophecy to be part of the major wars of the coming Tribulation times (Psalm 83, Isaiah 19, Isaiah 17, Revelation 16:12, Obadiah 1:15-18, Ezekiel 38-39, etc). One huge exception to this is that Russia is not in the 10/40 window, but is a major player in Ezekiel 38-39’s Gog Magog war.
Turkey is interesting not only because of her past part in history and her future part in history (more on these below) but her present condition as a perhaps-secretly Muslim nation with a Democratic overlay. Soon, I believe, this overlay will be ripped off as the nation’s true position will be revealed.
Turkey’s past is important to bible history and future prophecy. For example,
–Turkey was home to all seven of the churches Jesus had John write to in the book of Revelation.
–Turkey was home to half the Roman Empire. The eastern capital of the Roman Empire was Istanbul (renamed Constantinople in 330AD). Many scholars believe that because the Roman Empire was split into two halves, or two legs, that this is the reason for the imagery in Daniel 2 of the statue that represented kingdoms to come. (Daniel 2:32-35). This means that in all likelihood when the Roman Empire is revived it will carry with it the ancient eastern half, Turkey. (Daniel 2:40-41)
–Turkey was the home to the Ottoman Empire from 1453 to 1922. The Ottoman Caliphate was abolished on 3 March 1924 when the Empire collapsed and the Caliphate’s authority and properties were transferred to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. But Revelation speaks mysteriously of another empire, the seventh king who is also and eighth but belongs to the seventh (Revelation 17:9-11). In some way, it seems, the Ottoman Empire may be included, represented, or seen in the seven mountains and kings. (More here).
–Finally, the past Caliphate of Turkey is not to be overlooked.
“For the last 400 years of its existence, the Caliphate was claimed by the Turkish Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Though the Ottomans actively used the title only sporadically, from 1517 onwards the Ottoman Sultan came to be viewed as the de facto leader and representative of the Islamic world. From Constantinople (now Istanbul), the Ottomans ruled over an empire that, at its peak, covered Anatolia, most of the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus, and extended deep into Eastern Europe.” (source)
There are many calls to revive the Caliphate, even to this very week.
PA Arabs Fete ‘New Mahdi,” Establishment of Calpihate
“Thousands of PA Arabs participated in a mass rally in Ramallah earlier this week calling for the establishment of the Muslim Caliphate – the worldwide Islamist government that will “bring the coming of the Mahdi.” the Muslim messiah. The Caliphate is essentially a union of Muslim countries under the spiritual and political leadership of a single individual, the Caliph. It has been an Islamic concept since the days of Muhammad, when it was established by several of his disciples.
The last official Caliph was Abdülmecid II, who lost the office in the aftermath of the defeat of Ottoman Turkey in World War I. The best-known Caliph in the West was Suleiman the Great, an early Ottoman sultan who, in the 16th century, conquered most of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, even conquering parts of Europe, until he was stopped at “the Gates of Vienna.” With many Muslim states politically and religiously divided, and dependent on the West for support, radical Islamists have been pushing for the reestablishment of the Caliphate – this time to be led by the all-powerful Mahdi, who will unite all Muslims and establish Islam as the dominant religion in the world, ruling for several years before the “Day of Judgment”. Although the identity of the Mahdi is a secret, many Islamists believe that he is alive now…”
That Turkey is now folded into the world troubles is not a surprise. Turkey figures prominently in past and future history. Keep your eyes on Turkey, as as well as all developments in the Middle East, even as you also keep looking up. (Luke 21:28)